By Michelle Dawson
We can’t just build homes and then move onto the next development. When we make the decision to provide new homes and develop a new community, we’ve also got to invest in the area, connecting people to practical services, training and work opportunities to make it a sustainable place to live and work.
So that’s why we don’t just build homes, we also invest long-term in bringing communities to life with community centres, cafes, health and wellbeing services and bespoke investment. Within these communities we want there to be equal opportunity for all, and residents to feel confident taking the lead where they live.
And it’s not just about new neighbourhoods, but existing ones too. Some of our customers have been living in communities that have existed for many years. We listen to local voices to get a good sense of how residents are feeling about where they live. From there we work collaboratively, informed by customers, partners, and community groups to provide tools and resources based on what they’ve told us. We’re doing this collaboratively, elevating community voices to learn where best to direct our support and maximise opportunities for all.
A big part of this work includes connecting people to jobs, actively increasing employment and providing lots of training opportunities. This is our bid to future-proof communities that have roots already, and those that are just getting settled. From delivering bespoke pre-employment training, giving people practical work experience to hosting self-employment courses to support future business owners in bringing their ideas to life, we’re trying to close the unemployment gap in our region.
Between April and December 2020 we supported 162 people into employment. We’re always adapting and evolving our services, tracking redundancies and trends in the market to respond in a proactive way to the climate posed by Covid-19. This includes digitising our services so people can train and access opportunities in new ways, as well as focusing on wellbeing and resilience.
But we must continue to build on this if we want to make a dent in the widespread unemployment our nation is experiencing. And that’s why we’re the sponsor of this year’s Housing, Learning and Work Conference.
We want 2021 to see more people enter into sustainable employment. And to achieve this we need to reach employers, local authorities, and partners at a regional level to understand and respond well to local labour markets. Where possible, we will actively have a hand in creating the opportunities opening up for people seeking work too, nurturing partnerships with employers that will affect communities positively.
To support our nation and increase employment we need to embrace cross-sector working and cultivate new partnerships which will result in positive outcomes. Our mutual duty is to help communities be sustainable places to live, work and thrive.
Michelle Dawson, Manging Director of Community Services at Abri